Our clients approached us when the College where their 17 year old son was preparing to sit his ‘A’ levels, refused to progress an Application for Access Arrangements for 50% additional time for his summer examination series. This was a very difficult time for the young man, in any event, as he suffers from anxiety and was due to embark on his mock examinations without the extra time he required.
His parents wanted timely assistance because the deadline for the College to apply for additional time was looming. A complicating factor was that the College, as examination centre, is the gateway to the Examination Board and it is not appropriate for the parents to have direct contact with the Examination Board. Their son’s profile of special educational needs included Dyslexia and he had always received support at school but was not subject to a Statement of Special Educational Needs/Education, Health and Care Plan; he received 50% extra additional time in his GCSE examinations.
Our clients had commissioned an assessment report by a Psychologist in light of the very specific requirements to meet the criteria to access 50% additional time. The result supported the need, however the College raised questions in relation to the validity of the report, which included them noting a discrepancy as between the most recent assessment scores and those that had been undertaken within the last formal assessment. In addition, our clients were concerned that the College was failing to properly assess their son’s normal pattern of working which supported him having additional time.
We wrote to the College on a confidential and without prejudice basis and had course to raise concern that they were not complying with their duties under the Equality Act 2010 and were failing to take into account the young man’s profile of need (which was considered a disability under the terms of the Act). The College reserved all its rights in relation to the points raised in the letter but our communication resulted in a positive response from the College in that they determined that they would submit the necessary application for Access Arrangements as well as allowing the young man 50% additional time within his mock examinations.
Our clients shared with us how pleased their son was with the outcome and explained that it had brought them a great deal of relief as their son was able to focus on his exams in the knowledge that he had the necessary additional time which, in and of itself, assisted in alleviating anxiety.